STEM in Primary

STEM in Primary
A blog for those interested in primary school STEM education

Friday, 11 August 2017

ICT does not equal Digital Technologies

Stuff this week - ICT does not equal Digital Technologies

This week I heard a story of a principal who said words to the effect of "The kids can really use a laptop well so that shows that we are doing a good job with digital technologies". Whether this was a slip of the tongue or not I thought I would talk about the difference in the curriculum between ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and Digital Technologies. The Australian Curriculum has eight subjects which cover the specific knowledge areas that a student should gain over their time at school and then also has seven General Capabilities which are, amongst other things, skills that a student should acquire. Digital Technologies is a SUBJECT and ICT is a GENERAL CAPABILITY
ICT, in basic terms, covers the skill of using a computer and the traditional software applications such as Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets, Google Docs for word processing and Apple's Keynote for presentations. It also covers the digital citizenship ideas of respecting copyright, remaining secure online and being respectful net-izens. In summary you can consider that ICT is about USING technology. Thus ICT can and will span across all of the subject areas and teachers should be including it as part of all learning (along with the other general capabilities).
Digital Technologies on the other hand is about UNDERSTANDING and CREATING with technology, it is one HALF of the TECHNOLOGIES subject. By the end of year 6 students should understand how computers work (in basic terms), how everything in a computer is reduced to ones and zeroes, how the Internet works and how to create visual programs using a combination of programming concepts. The students should be on their way to understanding and employing Computational Thinking to solve a wide variety of problems. 
Image result for catch the banana scratchYou are probably thinking "WOW I don't know how to do any of that!" which is also what a lot of the teachers are saying which is why it is so important that schools upskill them to be able to deliver these new subjects properly. Knowing how to blind carbon copy (BCC) someone in an email is not digital technologies, creating a game of catch the banana is!
P.S. If you want a little more info on what this is about have a read of the FAQs on the Government's Digital Technologies Hub.
P.P.S. NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK begins TODAY!!Image result for national science week

Stuff in the news

$6m in STEM funds for preschools - Australian preschools are about to find out if they have been selected for a new $6 million STEM program. The play-based science, technology, engineering and maths program will be piloted at 100 preschools in 2018. An article from the Sydney Morning Herald 5 August 2017
PBS Show Will Teach Preschoolers How To Think Like Computers - PBS is creating an animated television show called Monkeying Around that uses four monkeys to teach the subject of Computational Thinking. An article from Edsurge 3 July 2017
Tim Cook and Other Leaders Contacted by Trump Administration for STEM Education Advice - Members of the Trump administration have begun contacting technology, education, and business leaders to ask for advice on "shaping funding approaches" for education related to STEM in United States schools. An article from MacRumours 27 July 2017

Stuff to buy

Arduino 2 Wheel Drive Ultrasonic Robot Kit - Looking to get your child into some more advanced robot building and coding. Look no further than this all in one kit. Add an IR receiver module and you could drive it around with your TV remote!
*At this point in time I earn no money from any product I list and I am not affiliated with any other company.

Stuff in education

How Teachers And Students Benefit From Technology - Technology has the potential to revolutionize how classrooms function, a fact that has not gone unnoticed over the years by teachers and legislators alike. Determining how schools should best capitalize on that potential has been a process of trial and error, with some approaches proving, ultimately, ineffective. An article from 1 May 2017
STEAM learning - A short blog post detailing the successes in STEAM that a school in Sydney is having through their careful planning and commitment to teach training. NSW Department of Education website June 2017.

Stuff to do Australia Wide

Australian STEM Video Game Challenge - For grades 5+.The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge will ask participants to develop games in response to a central theme or idea. Registration open 1 May and submissions close 25 August.
NSW All Schools Paper Plane Challenge - Calling all paper pilots. 2017 challenge is open. Closes 26 August 2017.
LITTLE BIG IDEA -  The Big Competition for Inventive Little Kids (You could win a trip to NASA!). Closes 22 September 2017
NATA Young Scientist of the Year - Students are required to undertake an investigation around any topic relating to the theme of a sustainable planet. Closes 22 September 2017
CSIRO CREST Program - CREativity in Science and Technology. Engage your students with open-ended science investigations and technology projects through the CREST program.
National Science Week - Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians – get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation. 12 - 20 August 2017
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Young Engineers Australia - Provides an engaging, hands-on learning platform using LEGO® and K’nex® assembly kits
CoderDojo - A volunteer run programming club
Code Club Australia - A global network of coding clubs for kids aged 9 to 11.

Stuff to do in Brisbane

EKKA Scratch Coding and 3D Modelling Challenge - Submit entries online for display at the Ekka from 17 August 2017
Robotronica 2017 - Robotronica is a groundbreaking one-day event showcasing the latest developments in robotics and interactive design. QUT's The Cube 20 August 2017. BOOKINGS ARE OPEN!!
Wizarding Workshops - Workshops are designed to accommodate Potter fans of various ages. Participants are grouped according to year levels and work in teams to complete projects at their ability level, challenged and supported by teachers. Paddington.23 September 2017
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SLQ Digital Futures - Each year the State Library of Queensland presents a theme of interest to the Queensland community. Throughout 2017, they invite you to join in exploring Digital Futures.
STEM in a Box has ongoing coding, robotics and 3D printing activities
Brisbane Library Service has purchased the very flash NAO Robot and is showing it off in various libraries.
The Cube at QUT has a number of changing programs. 
Brisbane Planetarium - Features entertaining and informative shows for adults and children
STEAMPUNX - Not to be confused with the organisation above! Offers in-school and out of school workshop programs
Flying Fox Studios - A studio offering programs in the arts, music and construction areas from babies to teenagers in Brisbane
It's Rocket Science School Incursions - Educational and fully interactive project based rocket science incursions for primary and secondary schools in a safe and empowering learning environment.

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